Courage To Ponder: Southwest Air 1380 | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

Courage To Ponder: Southwest Air 1380

Courage To Ponder: 

Southwest Air 1380

Not good -passenger Taylor Lewis photo

Captain Tammie Jo Shults showed 'nerves of steel' and kept calm after the left engine of her Southwest 737 exploded at 32,000 feet.

One of the first women to fly an F/A-18 fighter jet, the former carrier aviator and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. was turned down by the Air Force after being warned in high school that “there were no professional women pilots”. 

A retired colonel giving a lecture on aviation, “started the class by asking me, the only girl in attendance, if I was lost,” the 56-year-old Shults said after the incident. “'I mustered up the courage to assure him I was not.” (Capt. Shults -passenger Kristopher Johnson photo)

The 149 people onboard Flight 1380 are no doubt delighted that she persisted in her often-opposed quest. Despite high-drag from the shattered engine, smoke in the cockpit, shrapnel damage and a window blown-out (killing passenger Jennifer Riordan seated next to it), the former Navy jet pilot executed an emergency descent, followed by a smooth, single-engine landing in a challenging 25-knot crosswind at Philadelphia International.       

Passenger Marty Martinez captured the moment when oxygen masks were deployed on the flight.  -Marty Martinez ultimate selfie

Passenger Marty Martinez captured the moment when oxygen masks were deployed in flight  -Marty Martinez, ultimate selfie

An order for extra bagels would have betrayed more excitement than her recorded radio communications with ATC and the tower on April 18, 2018. “We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” Shults radioed air Traffic Control.

Passenger Joe Marcus later said it "felt like we were just falling from the sky” as Capt. Shults dived the crippled plane toward breathable air. Passengers "wept and screamed” with oxygen masks strapped to their faces, passenger Max Kraidelman, 20, said.

Passenger Matt Tranchin, 34, texted goodbyes during “25 minutes of sustained fear.” He added, “What do you say to your pregnant wife and your parents in your final moments? That’s what I was trying to figure out.”

As passengers were repeatedly told to “brace for impact,” Tranchin decided he wanted his wife to tell his son how important it was to follow his dreams and for her to find love again.

After touching down, Capt. Shults walked through the plane talking to passengers and hugging one distraught woman to make sure they were OK.

Capt. Tammie Jo Shults -passenger Kristopher Johnson photo

Quote To Ponder

“The dangerous dirty secret of the airline industry is their use of low paid mechanics in foreign countries to maintain passenger aircraft,” says John Samuelsen, president of the national Transport Workers Union. 


“It is a fact that Southwest and many other United States' airlines have overhaul work done overseas by mechanics who are not required to meet the stringent standards and requirements adhered to inside the United States. It's the ultimate example of a ‘profits before people’ business plan and it has created a clear and present danger to America's air travelers.”


Engine-maker CFM had proposed safety checks on its engines in June 2017 after a fan blade separated from a Southwest engine in August 2016. That plane also made an emergency landing after debris tore a foot-long hole in the plane’s left wing. NTSB crash investigators found the fan blades showed signs of metal fatigue.


After Southwest Airlines opposed the engine manufacturer’s recommendation, the FAA proposed making the fan blade checks mandatory last August, but never issued a directive.    

NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said the number 13 fan blade was separated and missing from the engine on Flight 1380. The blade broke off from the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue.

“RESIST MUCH, OBEY LITTLE”   发件人     William Thomas 2023